Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Students' copyright

The NUJ's London Freelance investigates the problem of universities assuming copyright of students' work.
The universities' enthusiasm for copyright grabs seems to stem from their dealings with patents on scientific discoveries. While patents are a very different animal to copyright, university bureaucracies often lump the two together. Goldsmiths claims ownership of "patentable inventions" software, lectures and designs, but "for the avoidance of doubt the College does not intend to assert any possible ownership of copyright" in written work.

[Guild General Secretary] Bernie Corbett cites "half a dozen instances where students write something of commercial value," usually scripts or treatments for TV companies. The issue comes up at copyright clearance. "Every time the Writers' Guild take up the case... the university have backed away at 100 miles an hour... It's plainly completely ridiculous to claim copyright." Universities are "not really interested in this as a way of generating income... It would be ideal if they had a think about this and didn't ask students to sign up to something unenforceable."

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